Earlens uses a device behind the ear that closely resembles a normal hearing aid. The only difference is that the device converts sound into a light wave and then transmits it to the second part of the system which is a unit implanted on the eardrum that receives the light wave and converts it into sound waves again directly against the eardrum. Obviously this is a more complicated system with more potential for something to go wrong. The manufacturer's website claims that you get a much broader frequency response range. The graph on the site showed a normal hearing aid producing a range of approximately 750 to 4500 Hz and the Earlens producing a range from approximately 100 to 12,000 Hz. In truth, many new normal hearing aids on the market have a frequency response range of 125 to 12,000 Hz which is almost identical to the Earlens. If the Earlens depends on light to transmit the sound information through the ear canal then what happens when you have any buildup of wax in the ear? Normal hearing aids send amplified sound through the ear canal which can transmit around any wax present as long as the ear canal is not completely plugged up.
I tried to find a local provider for Earlens in the Reno, NV area. Only three offices showed up on the manufacturer's locator within 200 miles. One in Sacramento, CA and two locations for the same Otolaryngology group in San Francisco, CA. Neither of those companies had any information in their websites about the Earlens. One company was an audiology clinic. The implantation process for the second device on the eardrum requires an ENT to perform the surgery. One can assume due to the nature of the device that it will be considerably more expensive than top-level "normal" hearing aids which come in a range of technology with the best aids ranging in price somewhere around $6000-7500 per pair. I would be concerned to wear something which had such a limited number of providers available to provide support. You will be paying significantly more money with more risk involved due to the surgery, more chance of issues from ear wax, and still the same visible unit behind the ear. Personally I fail to see any significant advantage in the Earlens as compared to the current technology available in the standard hearing aids.
The price of Earlens will vary based on location. Earlens corporation has a suggested retail price which has fluctuated over the past year since they released the device for commercial use. This is due to the variability of costs associated with the fitting of the device. As a dispenser of Earlens, we charge $5,995 per device ($11,990 for a pair) which would include the initial consultation, impressions and lens placement by the physician, & fitting and adjustments with the audiologist. Additional office visits with the physician and lens adjustments incur an additional cost. Earlens is substantially more expensive for the clinic to acquire due to the "newness" of the technology and cost to manufacture it. In terms of outcomes, it comes close to traditional hearing aids at this time, but they are working to improve the technology.
While I do not have first hand knowledge of the cost I did have a patient who visited an Otologist in the area for more information. The cost he was quoted, per his reporting, was $20,000.00. Which included the surgeon's fee. Again, this is all second hand reporting and as I mentioned I do not know this to be fact. My patient opted to wait until the technology got better and price came down.
Thank you very much for your question. I'm not sure about the cost because it is fairly new to the market. Hearing aids have been around for a long time and are proven to help people with hearing loss. I'm not very sure about this product, you may want to do some serious investigation into it. It looks like it is something that is implanted on the eardrum. Sorry, I am limited in my knowledge of this product.
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